We have only made a handful of appearances at social events since Whittaker died. The latest have been celebrations for our niece and nephew's birthdays. The first of the 2 we hadn’t really prepared ourselves for. We thought we’d be ok. But of course, celebrating a 2 year olds birthday comes with being surrounded by babies and feeling the huge absence of our own. Watching everyone goo and gah over everyone else’s babies. Trying to avoid eye contact or be within earshot of the general baby chit chat is difficult. Hoping not to make anyone uncomfortable with our broken hearts but desperately wanting to protect ourselves from any further pain.
The second of the two celebrations we discussed and processed before hand. When I asked Ryan if we should go, his phone light lit up instantly and for us, that’s our sign from Whittaker, it happens at the most freakishly accurate moments right when we need her guidance (it wouldn’t be a common iPhone fault, of course ha).
Ryan is my only safe place. He feels the exact same as I do. He’s thinking exactly what I am. Yet his only concern is for me and not for himself. I honestly do not know what I would do without him. I am so incredibly lucky and grateful to have him to ride through this shit storm with. We do not leave each other’s sides. We have a “safe word” and an escape plan if we need to take a break.
It feels like we will forever be the couple who’s baby died. The ones who sink into the corner hoping no one tries to make small talk but also hoping someone asks about Whittaker or how we’re truly doing.
“How are you?” also feels like a trick question. How am I since my baby died? Or just a general “how’s things”? Do I go there with them? Do they even remember I have a baby and she died? Have they reached out to me in the past 13 months? Will I instantly regret opening up to this person? Do I prepare to be dismissed or just avoid any mention of Whittaker at all and pretend like the most traumatic thing never happened to me to ease their uncomfortableness. Are they anxious talking to me? Are they looking for a way out of this conversation? And then I have to ask how they are in return.. and also seem interested. Ugh. I’d rather just sit to the side in my little bubble and look weird and uncomfortable and be left out of it all. It’s too much.
I can’t see myself ever being social again. It’s not for me now. I have this dark cloud hanging over me and the absence of Whittaker is heavy in these situations. I feel like people are tiptoeing around us like we’re a ticking time bomb. We’re killing the vibe. When I’m not in a safe place around my safe people, or not around people that know nothing about me, I feel so vulnerable. I can only be myself and a little more relaxed when my baby and my well-being is at the forefront of everyone’s minds and consideration. I can only do that with those that have been there in the trenches with me. That have seen me broken and seen me laugh. Not these acquaintances who know our story, have sent their condolences or liked a post but are afraid to look us in the eye.
I am the spokesperson for our baby. That is all I share these days because Whittaker is my whole life. I put all the heaviness that comes with losing a child, out there. I remind people our baby died. Just like everyone else reminds us they have living children. And so I guess this is the consequence of that. Feeling silenced and alone in a room full of people. Watching everyone else laugh and have carefree conversations about menial life things that I just can’t relate to any more.
I want to know when this will get easier but I feel like the only answer would be when Whittaker doesn’t consume my every thought. And right now, that day is never. So this is our life now.. forever the couple who’s baby died.